I’m going to be hosting a workshop on consent at Bristol Anarchist Bookfair this Saturday April 20th. The event starts at 11am and my workshop it the last of the day at 5pm in the “Room with a view” on the first floor of the building (there’s a lift and stairs). Apparently there’s enough space for about 20 or so people.
I’m working on a Zine to hand out to everyone who goes plus make it available before and after. It’s not quite finished yet but here’s the Introduction, which may be useful to you if you are thinking coming along.
Let’s Talk About Sex:
A Starter Zine & Workshop on Consent
Shaun Phillips – Bristol Anarchist Federation
for Bristol Anarchist Bookfair – April 2013
Hi, I hope you will enjoy/did enjoy/are enjoying (please stop reading and pay attention) this workshop on consent.
The title and description in the program is “Let’s Talk About Sex”: Consent, Coercion, Communication and Accountability – We will talk about what we mean by the terms consent and coercion in relation to intimacy. We look at options & techniques for practicing good consent and attempt to tackle issues with communication when it comes to sex. Finally we cover accountability and responsibility both individually and as a community.
In hindsight if I had produced this workshop and done a good job of covering everything listed this would last us all day at best. I asked for 90 minutes and thought that was pushing it. The organising collective gave me 60 minutes so I’m just going to have to make do.
With this workshop I instead want to have a brief overview of what we mean by consent and why it is important. We will use some simple activities to look at how consent can, should and maybe even shouldn’t work.
We will also share discussion points and ideas in a group so as to generate more ideas but also further discussion on consent, coercion, communication and accountability.
It is not possible to cover what I would like to have covered in this time period. This zine has extra bits and bobs in it but still doesn’t really come close to encompassing the subject. There are some great zines out there, online, and if you are at the Bristol Bookfair right now Princess Pirata and Bristol Anarchist Federation both stock some good ‘uns.
More importantly I want this workshop to be nothing more than a starting block. Go out and talk about consent with anybody and everybody, share and develop your thoughts and ideas, even host your own workshop near you.
If I see a consent workshop on the program for one of the other Bookfairs around the country I will be very happy indeed.
I’m no expert, I’m no consent guru, and I’m certainly no saint. I’m not doing this because I want to preach about consent but because I want to know more. I’m here because I bought “Learning Good Consent” from my friend at Princess Pirata distro and it made my cry because I realised how much of a dick I’d been to people in the past.
Even after reading the zine, it wasn’t as if things were fine now, I’d atoned for my sins and converted to the righteous path of consent. I still mess up a little from time to time, we all do, but now I know if I’ve crossed boundaries or had my boundaries crossed (yes it happens both ways, it’s not just men who suck at consent), we talk about it and we improve. After all, consent IS communication!
So I read more about consent and spoke to everyone about it: at home, in pubs, at punk gigs, night club toilets, work, in then park, in the train, and I said that I would do a workshop, but then:
Them: “We were talking about how sexist men are.”
Me: “Really, do you think I’m sexist?”
Me: “Oh, in what ways?”
Them: “Oh… Like you are always going on about consent… like that time X was over and you were cuddling and you were talking about consent and you were clearly doing it just to get in her pants.”
That conversation completely put me off the idea of doing the workshop. If people felt this way about me I shouldn’t be doing this.
Then a few months later and after attending a talk on “Queering Anarchism” (which is also happening at the Bristol one) the Bristol Bookfair came along and fuck it, I applied, I knew what that person said wasn’t true, and yeah I’m not perfect, I’ve been sexist, I’ve used male privilege (and the others), I’ve used verbal coercion in the past, it was shit, I was a shit, and that’s exactly why I SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT CONSENT!
…and you should be talking about consent too.
Workshop Starts 5pm, The Room With a View (Next to the Afed Stall), Saturday 20th April, Trinity Arts Centre, Bristol